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Ethnic Cleansing Essay

1467 words - 6 pages

Ethnic Cleansing

In Hague, the tribunal officials trying Slobodan Milosevic are seemingly no closer to the truth than their predecessors at Nuremberg. The truth is elusive, frightening, and oftentimes too revealing. The truth is the answer to the fundamental question of how seemingly ordinary people can commit acts of unfathomable depravity. Perhaps it is so horrible that we cannot bear to imagine it, or perhaps it is so basic to human nature that we do not want to believe that we all have it in us. How can a civilized world stand in silence or indifference before evil's embodiment, whether at Auschwitz, Cambodia, Rwanda, or Srebrenica? It is cliché to say that history teaches us not to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors, but now, in a supposedly more educated society, we are seeing the terrors orchestrated by Hitler manifested all over the world. I believe that the mass terror of the sort practiced by the Nazis will occur again and is occurring again. Whenever certain ingredients are present, Hitler's legacy will continue. The policy of ethnic cleansing can occur and have terrible consequences in all territories with mixed populations, especially in attempts to redefine frontiers and rights over given territories. There is a new logic of conflict that relies on violent actions against the 'enemy's' civilian population on a large scale rather than on war in the traditional sense. Wherever intolerance, discrimination, and ethnic and religious exclusivity exist, the world is in danger of imitating Hitler's actions. Even where historical conflict does not exist between racial or ethnic groups, strategic political interests can often lead the governments of nations to commit genocide. Examples of this logic and policy abound today, especially in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
By definition, ethnic cleansing is the forced expulsion of one ethnic group by another to create a homogenous population. Most recently, this policy has been carried out in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992-95, Croatia from 1991-92, and Kosovo in 1999. To further their aim of creating Greater Serbia, Bosnian Serb forces compelled thousands of non-Serbs, Croats, Albanians and Muslims to abandon their homes, allowing Serb families from other parts of former Yugoslavia to occupy them. Wholesale slaughter, deportation, strategic bombing of cities, blockading of cities, and other human rights violations were allegedly used to implement this policy, which created nearly two million refugees. Under the command of Slobodan Milosevic, Serb forces were responsible for the widespread killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. This was most apparent in 1995 at Srebrenica where almost all captured Bosnian Muslim men and boys, altogether several thousands, were executed at the places where they had been captured or at sites to which they had been transported for execution. In Croatia, Milosevic took part in a joint criminal enterprise for the forcible removal of...

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